I hope that I have at least successfully made the following thematic points in part 1:
(1) Successful tactics in furthering an ethical stance do not come from forcing another to conform to one’s own ethics. Education may or may not lead another to realize they hold the same stance, but they have a right to differ.
(2) Subjective experience, particularly when culturally-relevant, and acknowledging privilege matter when thinking about moral dilemmas and people’s abilities to act.
(3) We (the West) seem to have a trend of ignoring issues at home while forcing conformity to some sense of morality abroad. This is generally problematic and hypocritical in many regards and follows the above two issues.
Where am I going with this and what does it have to do with conservation…
I’ve had the fortune of taking a few eye-opening courses during my undergraduate career that exposed me to critical environmental history as well as political ecology. My discomforts I had always felt in discussions in conservation seemed to grow, but also were theoretically and practically validated in terms of justice. These issues follow those from which I had drawn the above conclusions.
When it comes to mainstream conservation historically and presently, we have failed to acknowledge the power relations and implications in decision-making. We have focused attention abroad or outside of our local sphere rather than acknowledging and acting on our local-scale problems. This theme has followed a neo-colonial narrative of enforcing our moral views often violently abroad while not acting in the same intensity to stop the localized issues.
How is it that we should expect it to be okay (let alone successful) to enforce policies upon others on a global scale and regional scale when on an individual basis, other morally valid ideas (that also obviously improve environmentalism and conservation such as veganism) are viewed as condescending or disrespectful when done in the same manner?
I don’t know the answer to this question, but the irony has strongly influenced my perception of morality in conservation schemes. Grass-roots approaches matter to conservation, particularly given that many threats to species stem from habitat destruction often to do with our own consumption, and in the long-run, global warming – also related to our own consumption.
I hope this wasn’t too all over the place. Alas, I have not myself been able to ethically resolve these issues. On that note, have a great Sunday!